With the 2020-2021 season only a month away, we thought it’s time to showcase the real heroes that keep goalies sane and forwards in check. Here are the top defensemen to watch for this year from each team in Section 2AA
– Eden Prarie #27
For the second year in a row, Luke showed everyone why he was able to commit to the University of Minnesota before his first high school hockey game in 2018. It wasn’t because his older brother Casey won Mr.Hockey in 2017, or because his other brother John is also committed to the Gophers in 2021, it’s because he’s really, really good. Luke led all Eagle defensemen last season with 32 points (5G, 27A), including 3 points (1G, 2A) in the state tournament as Eden Prairie fell short to Hill Murray in the championship game. It’s still up in the air whether or not he leaves for the USHL this year, as he was drafted #2 overall by the Madison Capitols in 2019. If he stays, however, expect the Eagles to make another trip back to the Xcel Energy Center.
– Prior Lake #20
Despite not being on the 1st powerplay, Jackson still managed to lead all Prior Lake defensemen in points with 14 (3G, 11A). If he can produce like that in his first year of high school hockey and is already listed at 5’11, the sky is the limit for his development these next two seasons. Look for him to take over more responsibility on specials teams and develop his shot this season.
– Minnetonka #15
Here’s a skater that really improved his scoring output from 2019 to 2020. In his first season with the Skippers, Duke only had 3 points (1G, 2A). Compared to this past year, Duke led all Minnetonka defensemen with 17 points (4G, 13A) and was a key contributor on the powerplay (1G, 6A). If the Skippers are to make it out of Section 2AA, they’ll need a big season from Duke at the point.
– Chaska #20
Chaska is losing their top 3 scoring defensemen from last season, most notably Max Burkholder who will play in the USHL before joining the Colorado College Tigers in 2021. That leaves a lot of responsibility for the returning blueliners, especially. Sam had the 2nd most goals (4 Goals) for all Chaska defensemen despite not being featured on their powerplay. With his size and the poise he showed during his Freshman campaign, Chaska fans should be excited for the future with #20 at the blue line.
– Holy Family # 8
After not recording a point for Holy Family his first year, Noel exploded on the scene and led all Fire defensemen with 16 points (2G, 14A) last season. He’s clearly a leader in that locker room as well, as he’s been voted the team captain for his senior season. Keep eyes on #8 for a big final year in the green and black.
– Chanhassen #5
Chanhassen is losing their top defenseman and leading scorer from last season, Jack Willis (9G, 14A). The Storm are a defensive team, only scoring 49 goals all of last season, and they will need to rely on the development of underclassmen likeif they want to make it past the 1st round of playoffs. Joe was 2nd in scoring among Chanhassen defensemen with 8 points (2G, 6A) last season, and will get more opportunity to quarterback the powerplay with Willis no longer being the focal point at the blue line.
– Shakopee #9
Shakopee is another team that struggled last season, only winning 6 games on the year. Despite that adversity, Matt still managed to put up solid numbers and led all Saber defensemen with 10 points (2G, 10A). His game really started to take off at the end of the season too, as he recorded 6 points in his last 4 contests. Shakopee will need a big senior season from this blueliner if they want to compete in Section 2AA.
– New Prague #27
New Prague is losing its top two defensemen from last season, which leaves a lot of space to fill for a team that already has trouble winning games.is one of the few bright spots remaining for the Spartans, he was 3rd in points for defensemen with 4 (3G, 1A) in his first year of varsity puck. He should get plenty of opportunities on special teams this season, and New Prague will need him to develop quickly if they want to bounce back from a tough 2020 campaign.